Claire Harvey, 38, is the captain of the British women’s sitting volleyball team, an awesome accomplishment since she only took up the sport 4 years ago. Know as Harve by her teammates, Claire took to sports early and when she was 14 discovered a love for rugby. She excelled in the sport until a car crashed into her bicycle in February 2008 leaving her completely paralyzed in one leg, without peripheral vision and a loss of several nerve functions.
After a lengthy period of physical therapy she discovered sitting volleyball.
In an interview with the BBC, she said, “For a long time after my accident, my whole life and my family’s life was about things I couldn’t do anymore. But when I got into the sitting volleyball lifestyle, my whole life was about what I could do, despite my disability and in some ways, because of my disability.’
Within two years she had been selected for the Great Britain national Sitting Volleyball team; she represents her country in this year’s 2012 Paralympics. Claire is one of two out and proud athletes at the 2012 Paralympic Games.
Harve told Gay Sports Blog it is “sad” that more athletes don’t act as role models to young people. “I remember watching [Tennis Player Billy Jean King and Olympic javelin thrower Fatima Whitbread] as a child and just thinking how very amazing they were, how they were like superheroes to me. As I got older I realized how much they had achieved against a backdrop of ‘not fitting in’ and being different, but how they allowed their performance to do the talking.”
Claire graduated from Cambridge University in 20
06 with a masters degree in Criminology. She now works in Financial Services as a Head of Corporate Responsibility. When she is not working or training or canoeing she can be found speaking to students in her capacity as a Diversity Role Model for an organization which tackles homophobia and transphobia in schools. She has also been the operations manager for the Great Britain Deaf Women’s Football Team and earlier this year she joined athletes Blake Skjellerup, Ben Cohen & John Amaechi as an ambassador at this year’s Olympics’ Pride House.
In their opening game, Great Britain fell to Ukraine, losing the first set 25-9, the second 25-20 and the third 25-14. The game was the first for Great Britain in the country’s history, having never qualified a team before. They will play their second match of pool play today when they face the Netherlands.
Stuart Wilber is a Seattle activist who skipped classes in high school to watch the McCarthy– Army Hearings. Having seen it get better and worse and better again over the years, he continues to hope he will experience full federal equality in his lifetime. *Photo by Mathew Ryan Williams
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